All About Estates

The Value of Canadian Tire “Money” in Estates

Today’s blog was written by law student Jonathon Vander Zee.

The other week, while going through mail and documents provided by a client, there was what looked to be an envelope filled with a stack of cash. I was about to run into my colleagues’ office and tell her what I found when I realized that the envelope was actually filled with Canadian Tire “coupons” or “money” (CT Money). These bills, much to my dismay, mimic the appearance of regular Canadian currency.

In researching my discovery, I discovered that CT Money has been distributed by Canadian Tire stores for almost 65 years as a rewards program of sorts, whereby customers receive these bills and can subsequently use them towards the payment of future purchases at a participating Canadian Tire Store. The face value of CT Money is commonly much lower than regular Canadian currencies; CT Money includes bills with values as low as 3 cents (meaning it can take a while to save enough CT Money to pay for a new patio set). These low values also make CT Money vulnerable to inflation.

Contrary to popular belief, CT Money is not limited in use to Canadian Tire Stores. Although rare, there have been instances where people have used CT Money to buy alcohol from licensed stores, pay repair bills, and even buy souvenirs in Jamaica. A small but dedicated group of collectors has also created a market for the bills themselves. Individual bills can be worth up to x3000 their face value depending on the serial numbers on the bills, their date of distribution, and their modified physical appearance. In the past 5 years, there have been a number of occasions where CT Money ranging from 50 cent bills to $2 bills have sold from anywhere between $1000-$3000 through auction.

Looking at the role of CT Money in Canadian society historically and today, I admit that my original feeling of disappointment when I saw what was in the envelope may have been misplaced. The “monopoly” money that many people think is worthless can be full of surprises if you are lucky enough to find yourself in possession of unique or large quantities of bills.

CT Money was actually given the highest credit rating possible by one of the worlds premier debt rating agencies, Moody’s Investors Service, in terms of high quality and minimal risk associated with the currency. Moody’s website states that Canadian Tire’s “market position and ‘hold’ over the Canadian consumer is often both misunderstood and underestimated.”

While it is clear that CT Money is often dismissed, it may be a mistake for estate trustees to ignore the bills as a potential asset of the estate. Although in most cases CT Money has little value, it is possible that individual bills could be collectors items and sold. Alternately, a beneficiary may be interested in adding the bills to her own collection.

Given that CT Money has the potential to be worth more than its face value, it may well be worth the trip to your local Canadian Tire Store or the Canadian Tire Coupon Collector’s Club website to assess the value of the bills in an estate’s collection. This may become especially true in the coming years as Canadian Tire is now focusing on its digital loyalty program. While physical bills will still be produced, they will likely be used less often. Scarcity may act to increase the desirability (and associated value) of the physical bills. Only time will tell: the crumpled bills we forgot to throw out may turn into an unexpected boon to those who find them.

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